In a world where everything moves fast -our cars, our schedules, our interest in the next big trend-, slow fashion can be a balm to the frantic/artistic soul. While so much around changes at light-speed, we can find comfort in the artistic beauty of a beautifully crafted garment, meant to exude our personal taste to the world and be passed down to loved ones. As consumers, making deliberate, conscious purchases may seem like too small, an act to alleviate over consumption, but like a pebble in the ocean, taking action on an individual level can create change over time.
Professor Dilys Williams, Director and Professor of Fashion Design for Sustainability, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, said this: There’s no such thing as fast fashion, just increasingly accelerated consumption, at a panel held last year in partnership with the Ethical Trading Initiative.
Nadya Toto and her sophisticated minimalism
Nadya Toto is a Canadian designer who, perhaps without realizing it, embraces the ethos of slow fashion. After 27 years of developing her brand and creating countless collections for the modern woman, Toto has slowly been editing her collections over the past three years to become laser focused on a limited number of key silhouettes that she has honed to perfection. After years of creating separates, jackets, pants, and coats, with large minimum orders, she now presents more curated collections primarily consisting of dresses and a few skirts and tops. You can’t please everybody … the more you focus, the more you identify your brand. Stretch jacquard is a favourite material of hers, loved for its resilience and rich nature.
Her designs have been worn across the globe by celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Drew Barrymore.
Toto’s aesthetic identity rests on the pillars of slow fashion; quality materials, high-end finishings, hand-crafted construction, and classic silhouettes that stand the test of time.
And the result of a more focused offering? This past season has been her best ever. Clearly, consumers are seeking higher quality clothing that has been dreamed up by a designer who is confident in what they do best, and offers only that.
A mindful process
Despite hectic delivery schedules and buying seasons, Toto’s process for creating garments is deliberate and mindful. It starts with a visit to the textile fair Première Vision in Paris, to select materials for the upcoming collection, and this is where the magic happens. Textiles are chosen – primarily from long-standing, family owned businesses -lace from Brazil, all manner of materials from Italy, finishings and trim from Japan-. Good things take time: years of family craftsmanship woven into a dress is indiscernible at first, but time is a testament to quality.
Toto’s process for creating garments is deliberate and mindful.
Once designs are drawn up and samples are received, production is ordered from Italy and sent to Montreal, where she works alongside her cutters to refine each piece. The garments are then assembled in Montreal – a rare case of Canadian manufacturing – and sent to her atelier where they await shipment to clients and boutiques. Unlike most designers, trends and commercial needs don’t win out over her own creative intentions. After researching and taking feedback from all points -from buyers to trend reports-, Toto never feels a need to stray from her specialty: sophisticated minimalism with a romantic, feminine touch.
From the time-honoured relationships kept with suppliers to the step by step manufacturing process, Toto’s slow fashion is worth waiting for. Her penchant for quality and artistry through clothing stems from her Italian heritage: I can’t afford to create dresses that don’t last- indeed, consumers can’t afford to wear clothing that doesn’t last. Classic design complements the longevity of her garments. It’s an ideology that hopefully, through the stunning collections she produces, Toto can share.
Luxury and comfort
The true foundation of luxury is comfort, and if you were to pick up a dress from Toto’s Spring collection, you would immediately notice the remarkable properties of a dress that can look simultaneously elegant and comfortable. Her clientele appreciate that both despite and because of the garments’ high quality nature, they can be put in the washing machine, or folded up in a suitcase and come out the other end unwrinkled, ready to help you take on the world.
In the middle of relocating her atelier, Toto enjoys being immersed in the planet’s best offerings – earth’s natural beauty is what makes her most inspired and indeed – Toto’s radiant energy is easily expressed in her clothing and appreciation for all things fine and beautiful. A firm believer that good thoughts and being good to others perpetuates a successful life and business, it’s hard not to take a minute to connect this positive energy to the beauty it creates in the form of fashion. And the best part? It can be enjoyed for generations to come.
+ info: Nadya Toto
+ Words & Images (only portrait): Alyssa Beltempo